60th Anniversary of Donnington Apprentices

60th Anniversary of Donnington Apprentices

Apprentice skills that have kept the Army's armoured vehicles at peak performance for sixty years have been celebrated this week at the Defence Support Group's Donnington workshops near Telford, Shropshire.

Graduating (yesterday, 13 November) were 18 apprentices who were praised for their hard work and endeavour by 75-year-old Mr Ernie Hedgecock who was one of the first intake of Donnington apprentices in 1948.

Mr Hedgecock of Telford spent his entire working life at Donnington and retired as a Branch Manager at the site.

The 2008 graduates have completed a three-year training package at Donnington as mechanical and vehicle electrical apprentices during which they have worked on the Army’s fleet of armoured vehicles including the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and the tracked Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

As with previous years, most will now choose to continue working at DSG Donnington, returning accident or battle damaged vehicles to operational service in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

The 1948 workshops at Donnington were run by the Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. It was taken over by the Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO) in 1993 and, most recently, was taken over in April 2008 by the newly-formed Defence Support Group.

The Apprentice Training Centre has remained constant throughout the workshops’ 60 year history, recruiting an average of 20 new apprentices each year and training them as professional, motivated and flexible electrical and mechanical engineers.

Most apprentices have continued with long careers in the Donnington workshops and many have progressed to become managers. Over the years, many apprentices have competed successfully in national and international competitions.

As part of their training, apprentices have worked on various community projects such as assisting a local hospital and the Ironbridge Gorge Museums, and helping local schools with engineering projects.


John Reilly, Chief Operating Officer for the Defence Support Group, told the 2008 graduates at Donnington: “We have shown we can excel in providing students of every age and background with an apprenticeship that is the envy of industry not just in the UK but across the globe. Your role in helping to equip our Armed Forces should never be underestimated and I know your efforts are greatly appreciated.”


Notes to Editors:


  1. Attached picture shows Mr Ernie Hedgecock, one of the ‘originals’ of 1948, with this year’s apprentice graduates at DSG Donnington.
  2. DSG launched on 1 April 2008 and brought together the ABRO and DARA businesses into a single new defence Trading Fund.  DSG’s primary focus will be in providing expert in-house maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for the through life support of the key land and air based platforms and equipment for the UK Armed Forces.


  1. It draws together many unique capabilities that have been developed over several decades for the direct benefit of troops and their equipment at both home and abroad. The combined businesses will turnover in excess of £200m, with a workforce of around 3800 strategically located throughout the UK.


  1. DSG’s Head Office is located in Andover and provides strategic direction to the main sites in Bovington, Catterick, Colchester, Donnington, Sealand, St Athan, Stafford, Stirling, Telford and Warminster. Smaller support sites located in Aldershot, Bicester, Edinburgh, Kinnegar, Sennybridge and York further enhances DSG’s geographic coverage. Small support teams are also permanently embedded in other UK military sites.


  1. For further information about DSG, contact Allan Robertson, press office:
    Office hours: 01264 385799 or 01446 755202

Out of hours: 07710 789853 or Mervyn Wynne Jones on 01743 262338 and 07802 206729

Visit: www.dsg.mod.uk

Ref: 07/08